• On Science-Fiction

    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

    I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more and more planets fall under the ruthless domination of our solar system.

    - Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts"
  • In education as elsewhere, the broad primrose path leads to a nasty place.

    - A. N. Whitehead
  • A great war leaves the country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
  • English is a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary.
  • True words are not beautiful,
    Beautiful words are not true.
  • Bishop of Bath and Wells: You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity… Have you ever considered a career in the church? Blackadder: Yes, but I couldn't get used to the underwear.

    Blackadder the Second
  • What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

    - Samuel Johnson
  • Terry Pratchett

    That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans. A European says: "I can't understand this, what's wrong with me?" An American says: "I can't understand this, what's wrong with him?"

    "It's still a lie. Like the lie about masks."
    "What lie about masks?"
    "The way people say they hide faces."
    "They do hide faces."
    "Only the one on the outside."

    Maskerade
  • Balzac a dit:

    Mes avis sur vos relations avec les femmes sont aussi dans ce mot de chevalerie: Les servir toutes, n'en aimer qu'une.

    Le véritable amour est éternel, infini, toujours semblable à lui-même; il est égal et pur, sans démonstrations violentes; il se voit en cheveux blancs, toujours jeune de cœur.

Terminator Salvation trailer

Just take a look at that. It sends a chill down my spine reminiscent of the previous Terminator films. Ah, childhood, you’ve reared your lovely head and I’m glad to know that not everything from it is dead.

They’ve got Christian Bale [The Dark Knight, The Prestige] playing the role of John Connor and he’s got his gravelly Batman voice on. They’ve got a trailer that’s got all the little plot leaks that have been leaked out from the franchise over the years and hinted at in the previous films. And what a take on post-apocalyptic Earth and robots; the bleakness of it is so akin to that feeling in the Matrix. Oh yeah, soft spot for robots.

McG’s [Supernatural] directing it so that explains some of the darkness. Ignoring the mental meltdown that was Charlie’s Angels, he seems to be a good choice for T4 to turn out great.

It’s definitely looking smashing and everyone knows how much I love cinematography and shiny CGI. Mm, shiny.

Cannot wait. Please to be coming out on time.

PS: I have a bad feeling about what’s going to happen to Sam Worthington’s character. Please, please don’t let that feeling come to pass.

Brideshead Revisited (revisited) Trailer

The trailer for the Brideshead Revisited remake is out in HD but seeing as my Quicktime plugin hasn’t shown up for work today, I’m not going to link in a fit of immature pettiness.

Here’s the YouTube version:

Cast:
Emma Thompson – Lady Marchmain
Michael Gambon – Lord Marchmain
Matthew Goode – Charles Ryder
Ben Whishaw – Sebastian Flyte
Felicity Jones – Lady Cordelia Flyte
Hayley Atwell – Julia Flyte
Joseph Beattie – Anthony Blanche

I’m a little excited. :) Hope it’ll be good…

Surf’s Up

So everyone was sick of animated films by the time Shrek 2 [not to mention Ice Age 2 and subsequent milkings of the cash cow] rolled out. It wasn’t trendy anymore so when Robots rolled around nobody was interested, Madagascar made a brief spark that entirely died for Cars.

Nevertheless this deserves all the chances that were given to Ratatouille and Persepolis.


Trailer

Surf’s Up has some of the best combinations of character, dialogue and design that I’ve seen since the first [and best] Shrek. Not to mention all the unbelievable in-jokes; but then again, when are they ever missing?

Taken from The Age
Cody Maverick

It’s one of those typical ‘finding my potential’ films with main penguin Cody Maverick voiced by Shia LaBoeuf [of Transformers fame] and with a face and a voice like that, how could anyone resist that happy-go-lucky boy charm? My friend Jo said: “You can’t help but like him, just look at that face!” [I think she was reading Empire at the time]

null
Big Z, an example of one of the mockumentary style of animation used

The film is a mockumentary/real-time mix and Cody is brilliantly self-centred, idolising and just plain teenage that he is so believable. The other characters are not to be skimmed over either, each with their own quirks and personalities that the documentary theme does not fall flat.


Tank Evans, voiced by Diedrich Bader

Even unlikeable Tank Evans is so bland and egocentric that he’s adorable. Adorably stupid, but adorable nonetheless. And his little trophy obsession. XD Hah.

Others of note were Chicken Joe [gosh, Jon Heder is bloody perfect for this,] Rob Machado & Kelly Slater [voiced by their real-life selves and sort of looking like them too…] and Big Z/Geek [Jeff Bridges.] Even that generic female interest – Lani [Zooey Deschanel] – was a little less than generic.

And my favourite? The Japanese and the Aussie surfer penguins [‘voiced’ by Tatsuhi Kobayashi and Rory Nubbins, respectively.] Haha, Rory Nubbins was such a bogan!

The cinematography? Pretty damn close attention to detail EVERYWHERE. And I mean small things like textures of shadows and colour of the sunset through the waves and OH MY GOD the water! [And I hear that that’s really hard to do so that it looks real] And the detail! So much detail! I swear I tried to stop blinking because I knew I’d miss that immaculate attention to details of facial expression and ‘unnoticeable’ action in the background that – yet again – stressed the human-like characteristics and the ‘realness’ of the documentary.

Go see it. Don’t expect something to tell your progeny of in years to come but it’ll definitely be worth your time and better than hoping that they’d stop with this whole animation business.

The Dark Knight trailer

Original post: 19th December 2007

[…]

Batman, I think, is turning out to be one of the better-made Marvel comic cum films. Batman Begins was a visual spectacular (although I’m not so sure about the ninjas – but then again that was in the original comics so who am I to gripe?) and The Dark Knight looks to be equally as good. Who would have thought that Heath Ledger would make a good Joker?

I’m also a little impressed by whoever wrote this line:

Some men aren’t looking for anything logical. He can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

It’s true though, isn’t it?

Eastern Promises

Original post: 18th November 2007

I’ve been meaning to get something off my chest for all these months of bloody-sweating study. However, I’m afraid that that must come later as I might need to get my thoughts in order so that my side of the argument does not sound like the emotional pleas of a half-arsed dimwit. No seriously, I have brain to keyboard verbal diarrhoea – given the chance, I’d probably employ stream of consciousness in my writing, James Joyce style. I don’t mean to disrespect a great literary mind but how tedious.

[…]
Eastern Promises is a film from David Cronenberg (of A History of Violence and eXistenZ fame.) As my first legal R18+ film, I’d have to say that it was worth the arm and two fingers I had to pay to watch it.

As with A History of Violence, this film stars Viggo Mortensen, (need I even say it? –Aragorn from Lord of the Rings) this time in the role of Nikolai, the driver of Kirill, (played by the beautiful Vincent Cassel – François Toulour in Ocean’s 12&13, Les Rivieres Pourpres, and many, many more noticeable roles in the French film industry) the unruly son of the head of the Russian mafia based in London.

The Russian “don” Semyon is played by Armin Mueller-Stahl and Naomi Watts also shows her pretty face. Despite the name-dropping, this cinematic wonder is plot-based whose high rating does not come as a result of gratuitous sex, illicit activity and violence.

“He is correct that it would be fatal, because this is not a movie of what or how, but of why. And for a long time you don’t see the why coming.”

I shan’t give away the plot (as I have a nasty habit of doing) as it is a wonderful film that you should all go and see at the cinemas at the first opportunity, but, of course, if you’re dying to know, you can always read the Wikipedia version.

There are, however, a few points I would like to make but first, please note, I do not mean to be crass.

Nikolai and Kirill’s relationship is rather indescribable. With homosexual rumours flying about like nobody’s business, Kirill drinks and whores to his hearts content, but still finds time to slap Nikolai on the arse and sit in his lap. He also touches Nikolai’s face a lot and cries on his shoulder – the poor, drunken, unstable boy. Anyhow, the subtext (an obvious anagram of ‘buttsex’) is unbelievable. On the other hand, it could all just be brotherly love. Sure, sure.

Anna’s (Naomi Watts) character irks me at times. She’s very emotionally conscious, empathetic, sympathetic and all the good of humankind has been entrusted to her soul. Rather like Chase in House MD. She is incongruous with the violent world of the Vory v Zakone. On the other hand, she is like a beacon of purity and her one, short kiss with Nikolai (yes, they had it coming, the unresolved sexual tension was stifling) was a sweet and beautiful thing in the dark nature of the film.

Viggo Mortensen did a good job of recommending the tattoos into the script. They are beautiful, awe-inspiring and definitely perve-worthy. He apparently walked into a Russian restaurant and they looked so real that some patrons left thinking that he was a member of the Vory v Zakone.

The acting was brilliant from all parties and the Russian accents from the German, Swedish and French leads were believable. As a slavophile, I cannot gush enough about what I thought of the hot mens (tall, strong and hard – just how I like them), the beautiful women (the stereotype of young, Slavic women have yet to be proven wrong) and the sad lyricism of the film.

If you are my way inclined and watch Spooks (a.k.a. MI5, a.k.a. brilliant British spy drama), be on the look-out for Raza Jaffrey who plays Zaf in Spooks and Doctor Aziz in Eastern Promises.

Lastly, I wasn’t entirely sure about my interpretation of the end scene with just Nikolai sitting at a table. Watch it and tell me what you thought it meant!

Friday Night Lights

Original post: 19th September 2007

Friday Night Lights is the film based on H. G. Bissinger’s book of the same name that documents the journey of a high school American football team and the community of economically-depressed Odessa, Texas whose hopes and dreams live and die with the Permian Panthers.

Having read Eyeshield 21 and become obsessed imbued with the spirit of American football, I was into this film from the very beginning. Not surprisingly, it did not fail to deliver.

-contains spoilers-

“Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke) is the team’s star player (running back.) He is head-strong, self-confident (*cough* shiny hot too *cough*) and has his bright future ahead of him with offers from football colleges all around America pouring in.

Mike Winchell (Lucas Black – remember him as Kruger from Jarhead?) is the quarterback who is known as a man who doesn’t smile. He struggles to to play consistently and is often pressured into decisions by others. Winchell is torn between wanting to following his dream and looking after his mother.

The fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund – Patroclus in Troy) struggles in his relationship with his father, an ex-Panther whose team won the state championship and who is constantly disappointed by what he sees as sub-par performance from his son.

Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) is the third-string running back, constantly living in the shadow of Boobie Miles and has a fear of getting hit and being injured.

Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) is the safety, harassed by team mates due to his lack of football spirit but is in fact the only one whose future after high school football is assured.

After their first game of the season Boobie Miles tears his ACL and while it is unlikely that he will ever play football again, the Odessa-based doctor can’t bring himself to tell Miles. The Panthers suffer from loss of confidence and lose their next game. Coach Gary Gaines is pressured by angry members of the community calling for his resignation.

However, for their next game, Comer manages to surmount his fear of injury and successfully takes the place of Miles as running back. The Panthers are then followed by a four-game winning streak, broken only by a close game in which Winchell throws too high and the Permian Panthers face a three-team draw for a place in the district representatives to the state championship. It is also in this game that Miles is finally faced the reality of his injury and is carried off the field for the second time.

The two teams are decided by a coin toss and the Permian Panthers are in the running once again. However, this is a bitter victory and with the now permanent loss of Miles, the film reaches its low point in which the players are all lost in their despair.

With the seemingly cliché plot so far and the same stony-faced, ego/angst-ridden characters as any other sport-based film, Friday Night Lights may just as well have been another inspirational, rags-to-riches movie.

It wasn’t.

I fully expected them to win the state championship despite all the odds, as it was Hollywood, after all.

But they didn’t.

The Permian Panthers made it to the finals but lost against the Dallas Carter team (all hope had yet again rested on Winchell’s play.)

But at the end of their last game, even though it seems that their hearts are broken by the loss, each of the players realise that winning and losing are the same thing. Their real victory was the journey that got them here, despite all the odds. Billingsly and his father reconcile, Winchell finds that he can shine on the field and Miles comes to terms with his injury and is ready to leave his fame and glory behind him.

It is interesting to watch this façade of male bravado slowly crack and fall to pieces as the film progressed. These boys forced to take on responsibilities and set their priorities at such a young age and all pressured by the hopes and dreams of their community.

Chavez: “We gotta lighten up. We’re seventeen.”
Billingsly: “Do
you feel seventeen?”
Winchell: “
I don’t feel seventeen.”


They cry, they suffer and sometimes they buckle under pressure from all sides, but these boys have found that the love they all have for their team is what has carried them so far.

I loved the emotional journey of Friday Night Lights. I loved how it contrasted the glamour associated with the football team with the poverty of the community, the racism that still exists and the socio-economic disparity. I loved the football, the characters and the journey they took.

And in the end, I loved Winchell’s smile.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Original post: 16th September 2007

I did say I was going to watch some Sky Captain, didn’t I? Well here’s the low-down (caution: I love sci-fi films like this so I may be biased):

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a visually stunning piece that mirrors the soft lighting (but high contrast) of the film-noir era but also adds in the undefined colours that bring to mind The Wizard of Oz (which, incidentally, features in this film.) There is beautiful portrayal of pre/post-war America and Americanisms similar to those in the Nero Wolfe television series that builds atmosphere from the very beginning (especially noticeable in the awesome appearance of the blimps – one of which is named the Hindenburg III – and the flipping of newspaper headlines and superimposed images) and is soup for the soul for those of us who like that period of time.

The characterisations are both brilliant and mediocre. Polly Perkins, in my humble opinion, is one of the most annoying female characters ever created for the big screen. Although her general clumsiness is key to the flow of plot and her determination to get her scoop are such appealing qualities befitting a ‘strong, female’ protagonist, she belongs better as a Mary Sue on the pages of Marvel comics. While heartless in the pursuit of a story (cutting Sky Captain’s fuel line leaving him behind in Manchuria for a brief sojourn in their slave camps), Miss Perkins has an affinity for saving cuddly, endangered animals and reading German in times of dire need. Not to mention her 1337-skillz at not messing her picture-perfect hair and lips and tottering through the jungle in amazingly high heels.

Sky Captain is another of those run-of-the-mill male protagonists from the film-noir era; specifically the Philip Marlowe-esque (see Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon) sleaze-bags who have the power to have women running after then in all ports of call. I’m not a big fan of Jude Law so I’m afraid that I don’t have much to say about him.

One good point in his relationship with Polly Perkins is that they bicker like brother and sister, an image that is forever marred by their kiss at a moment when it is neither the time nor the place.

As per usual in many films, the most interesting character(isation)s belong to the minor characters.

Franky (played by Angelina Jolie) is one of those strong, female types who sit on the fence that separates good and original characterisation from the Mary Sue kingdom. Angelina Jolie does quite an impressive performance as the commander (?) of a British (Aerial) Naval ship with really a good British accent (that only leaves me to add a mental “what, what!” to the end of her sentences.) Despite the unexplained eye-patch, she’s beautiful as always.

Giovanni Ribisi plays an adorable Dex Dearborn (all-American boy and genius mechanic) who swears like Biff and Happy from Death of a Salesman and other young boys resulting from the ideal of the American Dream. He chews gum, has a squishy face and says: “Son of a gun!” and his dedication as Sky Captain’s sidekick is non-wavering, leading – inevitably – to the slashing of the two characters a la Batman and Robin.

Other characters of note are the Mysterious Woman (played by Ling Bai, who is unbelievable scary in real life – reminding me, unfortunately, of a dear friend), Dr. Totenkopf (played by the very late Laurence Olivier as taken from archive footage – tell me that is not cool) and Kaji (Omid Djalili, whom you may recognise as Lupo from Casanova) who is comically dirty-minded and undeniably lovable.

Overall, this film has that gritty, grungy feel of Blade Runner or Mortal Engines sci-fi but with definitely less going on in the post-apocalyptic feel. It ends in a risible scene that sees Gwyneth Paltrow depict Polly Perkins’ smile leave her face as fast as a lead weight plunging into the depths of the ocean.